Khawaja Asif to be probed over Iqama

ISLAMABAD 14 July: The government has decided to launch an inquiry against senior Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N) leader Khawaja Asif for holding Iqama (work permit) during his tenure as the federal minister.

Speaking to reporters here on Saturday, Special Assistant to Prime Minister (SAPM) on Information Dr Firdous Ashiq Awan said the federal cabinet had approved investigations against Asif to “find out” how a “guarantor of national security became a national security risk himself”.

“A person who served in the capacities of a defence minister, a foreign minister and a water and power minister was found to have drawn a salary from a foreign company. This is a big threat to Pakistan’s security,” she added.

Firdous said that the matter had been referred to the Ministry of Interior for probe — to determine as to “how one tasked with safeguarding the country’s national security, the defence minister, was working for another country and presenting a security risk to Pakistan”.

She said that all the agreements and defence-related MoUs signed during his tenure as the defence minister, and all steps related to Pakistan’s national security taken during the period will be evaluated.

She said the investigation will take into account the countries which have interests with the company that gave Iqama to Asif, adding that the case was ‘a serious security breach’.

Taking a jibe at the opposition, Firdous maintained that political parties on the other side of the treasury benches create hue and cry when the status quo is challenged.
Talking about the economic measures taken by the government, the SAPM declared that country cannot be run without taxes.

She said that a market as big as [Lahore’s] Anarkali which has 20,000 shops, was found to have only 600 tax filers. The SAPM claimed that former premier Shahid Khaqan Abbasi was only a custodian of Sharif family’s business interests due to which the country was undergoing an economic crisis.
She said that leaders in the past used to live a luxurious life, while the money collected from taxes was spent on tips.
Firdous maintained that Abbasi made nine foreign trips in 2017 and took 114 people with him, while in 2018, he made 10 foreign trips where 105 people accompanied him.

She claimed that these trips caused a loss of billions of rupees to the national exchequer.

Criticising Pakistan Peoples Party Chairman Bilawal Bhutto Zardari, Firdous said that a political newbie spoke in English to his foreign masters in Sukkur in the garb of a political rally.

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